If all these Artists left Ibanez because of something we (LACS) did or didn't do, you will NOT see me in LA office anymore. I'm running the Ibanez Custom Shop, that means there are some limitations (No custom headstock, body shape, etc...you know what I mean) LACS guitars must resemble our production guitars.
it's GREAT to see you posting here Tak! very, very good.
And what Tak says is true, from my experience. When I had my Fernandes endorsement in the 90s, I had them make me a couple of LE-2 strat style guitars, that looked exactly like the ones available in stores.
However - mine were made in LA by a custom builder named Scott Uchida, and they were easily as good quality as a USA Charvel or Fender Custom shop guitar - I had big frets, a custom fingerboard radius,oil finished back of neck, and most of the specs I wanted.
But VISUALLY the guitar had to look just like what was available at the music stores.
And when I had the opportunity to shoot an MTV video for my album, Fernandes requested that I not play my custom LE-2 guitars -- they shipped a Ravelle Custom guitar, one of their own designs with a very unique look and body shape. It was a pretty cool guitar, but not one that I would play at gigs or record with. But I was happy to use it for the video, because I know that they wanted to promote that model, and that's what endorsements are about -- helping that company market their guitars, and being a "team player"
Ibanez made my buddy Ralph Santolla some REALLY nice custom guitars when he was endorsed with them in the 90s. Most were RG style guitars, like the USA Custom series, with his name on the headstock, very cool.
I tried to get hooked up with Ibanez back in my JEM days when I was playing them all the time in the early 90s, but I wasn't signed back then, and never got a response. It's VERY tough to get an endorsement with most any company, and they usually prefer if your tech or your management approaches them. So, I still love Ibanez.....but the only guitars I have seen and played in the last few years that I have felt passionate about are the J-Custom guitars. But those are priced as high as many USA built custom instruments like Tyler, Suhr, Anderson, etc...so they are in a VERY competitive price point at $4000 list, and since so many players seem to worship at the altar of "USA built" instruments, most won't spend $4k on a made in Japan guitar.
Roger Sadowsky set me straight about made in Japan instruments in the late 90s - he was considering doing a more affordable line of his basses and his guitars, built in Japan, with a price point about half of what his NYC custom series cost. I was surprised, and chided him for considering it, saying that he was going to "dilute his brand name and sully his reputation by putting out guitars made in Japan with the Sadowsky name on them"
He set me straight by telling me HOW GOOD the builders in Japan are now, and that many times the quality and playability of a GREAT Japanese made guitar would be equal to or better than some USA instruments.
And these days, with brands like Ibanez, Caparison, Charvel Japan, and many other top of the line MIJ guitars, I would not hesitate to buy one.
Plus -- being a Charvel fan from way back in 1982, I was very excited about the new USA Pro Mods and So Cals -- then FMIC decided to start making in Japan, and everybody was saying "they won't be as good as the USA ones)
Truth is - the USA guitars do not have the same level of fine finish and polish that the Japan models do. The USA guitars are quite variable - some are good, some are average.
But nearly every one of the MIJ Charvels have GREAT finishing, frets polished like glass, and a very consistent feeling neck with a better finish and playability than the USA models.
Japan has come a long way since the 70s and 80s. It's too bad that the yen/dollar exchange rate is so bad these days -- because if that ratio was better, the Japan made guitars would outsell the USA models probably two to one!
Arigato Tak-san for stopping by and posting, it's very good that Ibanez USA manager is reading and paying attention to this forum